Giant Pythons and Bewildered farmers!

September 5, 2013 | By wildlife@dmin

 By Aishuwarya Sudarshan

The first time we heard of  Gadauli village in Uttar Pradesh, a few hours from the Taj Mahal was when we heard about a giant python having moved in! The entire village was abuzz with news of a python who decided to take up residence in their village! A senior forest officer at Agra had received information that a twelve foot long reptile was in the village and if something was not done very soon, the local villagers who were under the impression that the snake was dangerous, may kill the snake. This was cause for concern!

While we were excited about the sighting of such a large snake, we had the challenging task of getting to the location immediately so we could save the snake from certain death!

It was dark and our rescue team set off at top speed and reached the village in record time (thankfully we don’t have speed limits on narrow winding village roads!). As we approached the village we could see a huge crowd of people gathered in a field. Our team pushed through the crowd, quite worried that we may be too late and that the snake may have been killed, we caught sight of the magnificent giant reptile, his scaly skin glistening like crystal in the torchlight!

The python was in the field of a farmer (Mr. Yadav), who was worried that this dangerous animal had taken possession of his land! He was not taking any chances with his new guest resting in his field.

Even as our rescue team members ‘Ashish’ and ‘Karamveer’ led by Dr Yaduraj reached the snake, they noticed that the python was not in the mood to be disturbed as he had just finished a large meal and was in the process of digesting his meal – only he had chosen Mr. Yadav’s field to rest after his meal. The villagers informed us that the reptilian visitor had consumed a large Nilgai antelope fawn earlier in the day. Pythons swallow their food whole and then rest to allow digestion – during this time they are lazy and sluggish and react much slower than normally. But this actually made the task much more difficult because we had to now move the python away to safety with his large meal intact. When disturbed, snakes often regurgitate their food which is traumatic to them. So we needed to be extremely cautious and avoid such a situation.

The only way to move the python out of that field was to use a tractor and a trolley. Several very willing hands went up when we requested the farmers for a tractor to help us get the python out of the field! It took us a good hour to get the super heavy python into a transport crate and then onto the tractor. Then, we shifted the crate to our rescue vehicle before waving good bye to the now relieved villagers and leaving for the rescue facility.

During the rescue operation, our vet – Dr. Yaduraj had spoken to the villagers and made them aware that pythons are non-venomous snakes, and would not cause harm if left undisturbed.

Despite the extensive care taken by us, the python did regurgitate its meal during the relocation process, something we anticipated. A quick medical examination at the Wildlife hospital showed that our python was fit for release, though he did not seem too pleased at having lost his meal!

We released the python the next day in a dense forested area away from fields where he won’t be disturbed! Timely action from the forest department and our rescue team had saved another creature from human ignorance and possible harm!

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